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Old 02-22-2007, 11:51 PM   #1
The Pirate Bob
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Default Crime and The Death Penalty

Thought I would start a new political debate thread since CK's last one got the juices flowing so well. Maybe we can keep from getting so personal when debating this one. It is one of me favorite topics because people seem to be under such a false belief of the cost.

I have my hard hat on, so let's go at it:


A Common Sense Approach to Crime and the Death Penalty

We need to reform so many laws, update those that deal in the area of technology and computers, and do away with some of the more mindless and costly ones that involve nothing more than lifestyle choices that affect no one. But the main points we will address here are two that are most important in our society, the death penalty and child abuse/sexual predators.

For whatever reason, the first question asked of people when the subject of crime and punishment comes up is, “How do you feel about the death penalty?” And any thoughtful answer should be about a lot more than just personal belief. This important issue, as much as any of the other 12 discussed, should be examined from a common sense perspective. So let’s look together at what makes the most sense.

The three main statements you hear supporters of the death penalty make are:
1. We shouldn’t and/or can’t afford to pay to keep some murderers or the like alive, housed, and fed for life?
2. They must be made to pay their criminal debt to society.
3. They should be punished and made to suffer to the maximum possible for their hideous crime.
We certainly don’t disagree with not spending anymore money on them than we must, and obviously they need and deserve to pay their debt to society and be punished to the maximum as we know how. Most of us can agree with that.

The fact of the matter is, that anyone who thinks or says that it is cheaper and we are saving money to execute them instead of locking them away for life is as wrong as they can be. Every bit of research and statistics for years now has shown that it costs much more to execute someone than lock them away for life. Here are a few of the numbers:

• The most comprehensive study in the country found that the death penalty costs North Carolina $2.16 million per execution over the
costs of sentencing murderers to life imprisonment. The majority of those costs occur at the trial level. (Duke University, May 1993).
• Enforcing the death penalty costs Florida $51 million a year above what it would cost to punish all first-degree murderers with life in prison without parole. Based on the 44 executions Florida had carried out since 1976, that amounts to a cost of $24 million for each execution. (Palm Beach Post, January 4, 2000).
• In Texas, a death penalty case costs an average of $2.3 million, about three times the cost of imprisoning someone in a single cell at the highest security level for 40 years. (Dallas Morning News, March 8, 1992).
• The California death penalty system costs taxpayers $114 million per year beyond the costs of keeping convicts locked up for life.

So, in relation to economics, it should be clear that the facts prove that it is costing us billions more to execute people.

But what about revenge for what they did, paying their debt to society, and punishing them for their ultimate depraved crime. Well, it seems like common sense that the only way to punish someone is while they are alive. Putting them to death ends their suffering and any thought or remorse they would have had to deal with in the future.

When a loved one dies, most of us console ourselves and others by thinking they are now finally at peace. If it is punishment, or even the base emotional reaction of revenge we want, it seems to me that executing someone produces just the opposite result. We have, by killing them, removed them from the equation.

Spiritual people who feel that even the worst person can be saved through seeking forgiveness and finding salvation, must admit that executing someone is taking away that opportunity from them. It doesn’t seem that any truly spiritual person would seek only revenge. That seems like a contradiction to being spiritual for “Revenge is mine, saith the Lord”. And nonspiritual people who seek revenge, again seem to be only sentencing someone to everlasting rest and peace by executing them.

History says that the Death Penalty is nothing more than a practice left over from medieval times, and it certainly has no practical, and especially no economic basis, to exist in our modern 21st century society.

Does that make someone who understands that soft on crime? Of course not, nor are we. One of the greatest issues we have regarding true justice in our society is the way we deal with sex crimes, especially in regards to child abuse. Sexual predators and child molesters are criminally ill. What I mean by this is that their problem is not a reaction to economic conditions or an over reaction to an emotional situation. Theirs is something that doesn’t go away and thus makes them a constant and ongoing threat to children and our society.

The common sense solution to anyone who has thoughts, desires, and feelings to sexually use or abuse a child is simple. It should be dealt with in one of two ways based on the desire of the adult predator.

1. If anyone who has thought about, wanted to, or ever committed any sex crime against any child and wants help with their problem, should be allowed to come forward, admit their twisted desires and/or crimes, and seek help. Those who have already committed such a crime will serve their legal obligation and punishment like all criminals must. For this first group of people, with ongoing help through professional therapy, they may one day be allowed to returned to society.
2. Anyone who has not come foreward on their own and sought help for their depraved thoughts and actions, and when arrested and convicted for any sex crime against a child, will never be allowed back in society. They should be allowed therapy and hopefully will one day regret and change their mind and spirit in regards to that. However, by not caring to step forth and seek help prior to being caught shows that they do not care enough to change, and they should never be trusted or allowed back on the streets, where children have a right to grow, learn, and play protected from such people.

This is a tough, yet a fair and humane, common sense solution to the growing problem of child abuse in our country. Along with the abolition of the death penalty, the billions of dollars saved would go along way to building more, larger, and safer prisons which, sorry to say, law enforcement so desperately needs in this country so we can lock up and keep locked up habitual criminals, like child predators.
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Old 02-23-2007, 12:07 AM   #2
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Death Penalty - No. The criminal justice system has far to many flaws and holes. We know of many cases where the wrong person has been executed. Even one is too many. Secondly, it is barbaric. We are past that as a society. Leave execution to the fundamentalists in countries like Afgahnistan.

Child Sex Predators - Hmmm, how about we get the biggest gay man we can find and have him rape the predator? Ok, seriously... Ummmm, I say Bob has a good solution. Tough issue...
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Old 02-23-2007, 01:23 AM   #3
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You missed another argument for the death penalty : a deterrent. That's a bit harder to argue on either side using statistics.

Also, while I agree that life in prison seems a harsher punishment than death, many people disagree. For some, death is the ultimate punishment our society allows. Further, taking the criminal 'out of the equation' can be a way to find closure for family and friends of the victims. People can adapt to and become used to many situations, including imprisonment. The thought that a murderer is alive while a family member is dead because of them must be hard to live with. If you go beyond that and believe a murderer is alive and not really suffering, it could be maddening.

As far as sexual predators....this is a bit more complex issue than it seems at first glance. Not because these are crimes that shouldn't be harshly punished. Rather, the issue is deciding what constitutes child molsestation, rape, or sexual predation. This varies not only state to state, but person to person. If a 30 year old man forces sexual contact on an 8 year old girl, most will agree the man needs to be severly punished. But what if it's a 20 year old man and 16 year old girl? 21 and 15? 30 and 17? Should consent play an issue even if there is a minor involved? Does a person's position in relation to another make a difference? (i.e. teachers). What about when 2 minors are involved? There are some difficult distinctions to make in both determining guilt and punishment.
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Old 02-23-2007, 09:44 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Pirate Bob View Post
The most comprehensive study in the country found that the death penalty costs North Carolina $2.16 million per execution"
$2 million per execution? That's pretty bad accuracy if I do say so myself. Heck even my dog can shoot better than that!

Death Penalty - Speed 'em up! From jury and/or judge condemnation of convict to Death Row, about a month in appeal should be allowed. No more.

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Pirate Bob View Post
This is a tough, yet a fair and humane, common sense solution to the growing problem of child abuse in our country. Along with the abolition of the death penalty, the billions of dollars saved...
No solution at all really, in my opinion.

Child Sex Predators - You know those municipal brush grinders that were used in the movie Fargo? Yup....
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Old 02-23-2007, 10:44 AM   #5
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Quote:
You missed another argument for the death penalty : a deterrent. That's a bit harder to argue on either side using statistics.
I don't think it is a very big deterrent. Murderers are going to murderer regardless of the punishment. Murder is crime of passion or a crime committed by the mentally ill, neither one is detered by the fear of death.

Montro,
Doesn't the fact that our criminal justice system is so flawed make you question the death penalty? Can you imagine if you or someone you loved was put to death for a crime they didn't commit? I can't imagine the horror. And this does happen, quite frequently actually. We are much better than this as a society.
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Old 02-23-2007, 11:48 AM   #6
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Fresh, I like the "old-west" form of justice in the case of murder. If the person is caught in the act, allow him/her their day in court, let them go through their set of appeals, and then execute them forthwith. No messing around with 20 years of appeals. Just get it over with.
On that subject, allow one lethal injection set-up for everyone to use. Sterility is not a concern when the person receiving the potassium chloride is going to die anyway. Change the IV needle between recipients, but do not worry about the tubing and poles.
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Old 02-23-2007, 11:52 AM   #7
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Quote:
Death Penalty - Speed 'em up! From jury and/or judge condemnation of convict to Death Row, about a month in appeal should be allowed. No more.
Before I went to law school, my stance on the death penalty was that for it to be effective, it had to be quicker. I never really thought one month like you presented, but shorter than what it is set at now. I felt like the death penalty system never really worked as a deterrent. Doesn't get used enough to justify it, that sort of thing. So, if the majority of the people wanted it in a particular state, then I wanted to speed things up. I'd rather not have the death penalty, but if we're going to have it, try to find a way to make it effective sort of thing.

However, I now think there's some sort of merit to the lengthy appeals process. If someone is truly innocent and gets sentenced to death, the lengthy appeals process is our only hope for justice in that case.
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Old 02-23-2007, 11:54 AM   #8
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Quote:
Fresh, I like the "old-west" form of justice in the case of murder. If the person is caught in the act, allow him/her their day in court, let them go through their set of appeals, and then execute them forthwith. No messing around with 20 years of appeals. Just get it over with.
What if they are not caught in the act? This is my problem. We are executing innocent people, does this bother anyone else????
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Old 02-23-2007, 01:04 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CKFresh View Post
We are executing innocent people
Everyone on Death Row is innocent! Just ask them!

In most cases Judge and/or Jury made the determination of who is on death row. Aspect of lengthy appeal has become absurd. Brief appeal process should be given and once that is exercised, green mile walked. This idea of keeping folks on death row for years is torture. The only reason appeal process is lengthened is to keep poor defense lawyers employed.
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Old 02-23-2007, 01:12 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by CKFresh View Post
What if they are not caught in the act? This is my problem. We are executing innocent people, does this bother anyone else????
If they are not caught in the act, then the trial goes as it does now, complete with their appeals (which go on for years).
I guess what I'm objecting to is the number of (and expense of) appeals. With forensic science being as advanced as it is today, innocent people are seldom comvicted.
And, by the way, eye-witness testimony is the least important evidence in most trials. Most people do not see what they think they see. I was a PI for a few years and did some work with the Hennipen County Sherriffs' office on this subject. We staged events for an audience, then polled the audience. Seldom did people recall the event properly.
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Old 02-23-2007, 01:16 PM   #11
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InTheNet, there's a lot to be said about getting a fresh pair of eyes on the materials of a case, and sometimes you can't get that done within a month. I would agree that only a small percentage of those on death row are innocent, but if one is innocent, I think the best attempts to get that person freed are in letting a case rest for a period of time and having someone new come in to really get a sense for how the case was done, see what can be done differently, that sort of thing.
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Old 02-23-2007, 01:20 PM   #12
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Quote:
Everyone on Death Row is innocent! Just ask them!
My point is, there are several cases where the REAL murderer was apprehended or confessed after someone else was executed. This is the main reason I oppose the death penalty. With a system as corrupt and faulty as our criminla justic system, we should not be making decisions to end peoples lives.

I will repeat, imagine if one of your family members were executed for a crime they didn't commit. I imagine your opinions might change.
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Old 02-23-2007, 01:48 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Doug Graham View Post
InTheNet, there's a lot to be said about getting a fresh pair of eyes on the materials of a case, and sometimes you can't get that done within a month.
Lot to be said? Absolutely. Since your run of the mill defense attorney (Criminal Defense Lawyer) bills the state directly for his fee in hours directly for endless appeals, the cost is tremendous. Added to this is the cost of housing, average $80 o more per day; if you multiply the daily cost by 365 days, it becomes more than $30,000 per year. (averaged from Florida Department of Corrections) "Based on the existing death row population, if you multiply that by the approximately 3,282 prisoners sentenced to die nationwide, the expense to U.S. taxpayers becomes nearly $100 million per year." Now consider that under our current system of Criminal Justice statewide, the victim(s) of crimes receives nothing in financial compensation for felony convictions leading to the death penalty, while the convicted receives at very minimum $30,000 housing, three squares per day, radio/television, plus health care, for those sentenced to death row. Interesting huh? For example, (again from a Florida Department of Corrections actual case) a rapist who maimed three of his victims and killed two would be housed on death row at $30K minimum in housing, while those victims surviving the attack, though maimed (three were) would have to pay their medical bills and recovery expense on their own obligation. Sad isn't it?

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I would agree that only a small percentage of those on death row are innocent
If they were properly convicted by a judge and/or jury none of them are innocent. Either that, or you disagree with our current criminal justice system. There is no point to using judge and/or jury in capital murder trials leading to a death sentence if you are going to overturn these sentences with appeals or endless appeal submissions.

Quote:
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but if one is innocent, I think the best attempts to get that person freed are in letting a case rest for a period of time and having someone new come in to really get a sense for how the case was done, see what can be done differently, that sort of thing.
Meanwhile you do nothing at all for victims.

Criminal justice? A bullet.
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Old 02-23-2007, 01:52 PM   #14
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Quote:
If they were properly convicted by a judge and/or jury none of them are innocent. Either that, or you disagree with our current criminal justice system. There is no point to using judge and/or jury in capital murder trials leading to a death sentence if you are going to overturn these sentences with appeals or endless appeal submissions.
What if the jury got it wrong? Or the police doctored evidence to get a conviction. It happens, whether you acknowledge it our not.
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Old 02-23-2007, 01:55 PM   #15
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I will repeat, imagine if one of your family members were executed for a crime they didn't commit...
As detailed in case above, imagine you are a single mother and horribly raped, maimed, left for dead, and then lose your job and and your children (due to being unable to work and provide care for children) and are left destitute on welfare. Your attacker, meanwhile, lifts weights, watches television, gets three meals per day, health care, mail priviledges, and legal defense courtesy of the state.
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